GT Outpost 24 kids' bike £300

Sturdy starter

BikeRadar score 2/5

This junior version of an adult bike has smaller wheels, a shorter fork and cranks but is otherwise little changed – including the weight.

The GT Outpost 24 is better than a lot of its rivals, but it feels disproportionately heavy for its size and is held back by its hefty and substandard fork. A rigid steel fork would be a vast improvement.

Ride & handling: Durable, and okay for flatter places, but weight limits its off-road ability

GT call the geometry of the Outpost 24 ‘dirt worthy’. The seat tube is slack for a small bike, while the head tube angle is just 67 degrees, giving the bike more stabilising ‘trail’, increasing straight-line and descending predictability at the cost of a little wheel flop at slow speed. Our young testers didn’t really notice this, only that it was more fun downhill than up.

They didn’t get much out of the hefty Suntour fork, except for a bit of extra momentum going downhill. Post-ride tidemarks on the fork upper showed very limited travel. “It felt stiff,” was the kids' verdict.

The Kenda tyres have a centre rolling strip, a bit like those on touring tyres, that should improve tarmac performance, ­ which, after all, is where this bike will spend a lot of its time. But they've got sufficient centre and side tread for casual off-road work.

Frame: Strong and sturdy, but bottom bracket is too high for small riders

There’s just enough room in this little frame for GT’s iconic triple-triangle design, wherein the seatstays overlap the seat tube and join the down tube. At the cost of a few ounces of aluminium, this ought to make for a stiffer frame, and possibly a stronger one.

On larger frames, boosting those characteristics is useful. On smaller ones, which are inherently stiffer and stronger, and are ridden by lighter riders, not so much.

Nevertheless, this is a sturdy frame, with generous tube diameters and a plate gusset to reinforce the junction of down and head tubes. A kinked top tube improves standover clearance, while the seat tube’s forward facing slot will help keep spray on the outside.

While we’ve seen worse on 24in-wheeled bikes, the 12in bottom bracket is too high. With the saddle set for comfortable and efficient pedalling, most riders will be unable to get a toe down easily – leading to scary moments or a too-low saddle.

Equipment: Decent 24-speed drivetrain and cable discs, but poor fork adds nothing except mass

The fork is a simple non-adjustable coil-sprung unit from Suntour. It’s fairly stiff, offering a grudging 50mm of travel with an adult aboard. It also weighs a lot, with steel lowers as well as uppers, making the bike noticeably nose-heavy.

The front end gains more weight in the form of a steel riser bar, which by itself is not a huge difference, but it all adds up. When we hung the Outpost 24 on the scales we weren’t surprised to find it weighed as much as 26in-wheeled bikes from Specialized, Saracen and Trek.

With all this mass, it’s a relief that the Promax cable disc brakes work well, bringing the bike to a stop without the spongy lever squeeze found on many bikes at this price.

GT haven’t downgraded the drivetrain or brakes for the junior version of the Outpost, which is nice. The EZ Fire shifters and the derailleurs are entry-level rather than bargain basement, and the unbranded freehub carries an eight-speed cassette.

That’s a big plus point over the threaded hubs and six- or seven-speed screw-on freewheels that many kids’ bikes have. A freehub is stronger, because the hub bearings are closer to the dropout on the driveside. That means the axle is less likely to break after a heavily landed jump, because a shorter length of axle is unsupported.

Crank length could be better, though. At 160mm, this is shorter than the adult model but not by enough. Suntour make a chainset just like this in 152mm and that’s the biggest this bike should have. The plastic outer guard is more use than you might think, though, preventing a chainring puncture-wound to the leg should feet slip off pedals.

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